Thursday, 22 January 2009

Personal Ontology

So. My supervisor insists that my introductory chapter for my upgrade report needs to have a 'personal ontology' aspect in it, so my examiners know where I'm coming from and where I'm going. I have the answer to neither of those issues. But I am thinking of including the following:



Reasons for which this upgrade report is in your hands:


1.       The first Greek-Cypriot woman is arrested for chaining herself on the Presidential Mansion for Greenpeace in August 2000.

2.       A Black man and a White woman walk down the street in Larnaca holding hands in July 2001.

3.       A Greek-Cypriot, Christian-Orthodox, Greek-speaking six-year-old girl goes to school for the first time in September 2004.

4.       A headmistress knocks on a classroom door on a March morning in 2005.

5.       A funeral in April 2005 is followed by another in June.

6.       25 September 2005.

7.       A heavily tattooed, bearded owner of a fried-chicken place opposite Goldsmiths library serves a hungry MA student in November 2005.

8.       A random search for books related to Cyprus on amazon in December 2005.

9.       A rising star in January 2006.


Additional information is below:


1.       I’ve always wanted to change the world. Somehow. Despite my parents’ concerns that I would never get a job as a teacher if I had a criminal record. At the time, I didn’t care. (For the record, I don’t – it was a misdemeanor).

2.       I watched this couple with my friends, sitting at a bar. Their comments led to a huge argument. I have still not spoken to some of them since.

3.       I was her first grade teacher. She was the only Black child at a school of 600. Her parents are from Congo.

4.       The headmistress brought to my first grade class the two children of asylum seekers – no warning, no preparation, no clue, no common language. They were dark-skinned. After their initial shock, a child shouts ‘Miss, they’re just like Marianna!’ Marianna looks as happy as never before. She is no longer alone. And I thought that getting the rest to stop calling her ‘Black’ meant she finally belonged.

5.       I lose both my grandfathers in less than three months. Both funerals are held in refugee churches. Both are buried away from their homeland, in refugee cemeteries. One cousin drove to the north and brought a bucket of soil from ‘our’ orange groves, with which to cover my mother’s father. The refugee tiny houses they had been living in for 31 years are now ‘returned’ to the government. Refugees seem to be destined to lose everything, including the opportunity to own anything again. My father’s father spoke Turkish and Greek so fluently you could not tell whether he’s Turkish- or Greek-Cypriot. Perhaps he was just Cypriot.

6.       My friends call me mad: I quit my job as a primary school teacher (Cypriot teachers are the best paid in the EU), I leave an apartment, a cat, a car, and prospects for marriage, and I fly to London in the hope that I will be able to breathe, to be, and to become.

7.       He reminded me of my mom’s cousin – I think it was his accent when he said ‘hi darling’ when I entered. I was right, he was from Cyprus. He told me he left during the war but still goes back to visit. We talked about how much we both hate British food, British weather and British buses. It took me more than fifteen minutes in a conversation with him to realize that he’s not Greek-Cypriot. That he is a Turkish-Cypriot. He was the first Other I met in my life. I was 25.

8.       I come across Yiannis Papadakis’ book ‘Echoes from the Dead Zone: across the Cyprus Divide’. It changed my life. Did Greek-Cypriots also kill Turkish-Cypriots? The puzzle pieces start falling into place.

9.       My MA supervisor believes in me. He insists I apply to the IoE for a PhD.


Thank you for your time. Your comments are invaluable.


Sceptic Anonymous said...

As cute as this thing might be, you can not be serious you or your supervisor. Who sits down to write his life time story in order to explain why she is doing a PhD? Maybe you should tell this to younger people to explain to them how beautiful, rich and full of surprises our lives are. But also how important accidents can be in life.

Regarding your comment about Papadakis, although I know exactly where you are coming from, I wish people would stop saying that. In all conflicts there are deaths and atrocities from both sides. Only the naive and the foolish think otherwise. I hope one day we won't even blink over this fact and even further that we won't have to put up with people who come and proclaim with a 'eureka' expression what is patently obvious.

I sometime think we Cypriots are so naive on so many levels when we have a casual brush up with reality we face it with the excitement of a five year old.

Am I too harsh again?

Lalù said...

My experience of British academia is that ontology is one thing they don't care about. But it could all depend on your department...

a said...

Sceptic: "Only the naive and the foolish think otherwise" --> I would also add the brainwashed. Since you acknowledge that you know where I'm coming from, I expected you to include that category as well. It's not about being naive, it's about being ignorant.

Lalu: I've already compromised and turned this piece into a mainstream, readable, academic paragraph in my introduction - if they indeed don't care then it shouldn't be too distracting.

Anonymous said...

hey!i read echoes of the dead zone this summer as well...
did greek/cypriots kill people as well?nooo wayyyy!=p
he did a great job, and i'm really glad that the book was translated into greek as well(even if it took them 5 years to do it).
i go to goldsmiths as well btw:)

maria t.